Cardiff University expertise has helped a North Wales company win an £82m defence contract, creating and safeguarding jobs.
Experts from Cardiff Business School spent two years developing a toolset to improve Denbighshire-based Qioptiq’s inventory forecasting operations.
The collaboration and knowhow helped the company secure a six-year deal with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to service night visions equipment.
And it has led Qioptiq to build a new £3.7m warehouse - which opens today - next to the current Qioptiq plant on the St Asaph Business Park.
The study was made possible thanks to a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) co-funded by Welsh Government , the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Innovate UK.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates praised the partnership for uniting industry expertise and academic knowhow.
“The Welsh Government is delighted to have co-funded this Knowledge Transfer Project, which really has produced outstanding results.
“Qioptiq is one of our most innovative High Value Manufacturing companies operating in a priority sector and I have no doubt that the Partnership has helped secure the long-term future of the plant in St Asaph. This is turn has had a significant economic impact on the local economy, providing high quality local employment and benefitting the wider supply chain.”
The KTP enabled a knowledge transfer Associate in ‘lean’ inventory forecasting business operations, Thanos Goltsos , to work directly with Qioptiq under the supervision of two Cardiff Business School Professors - Aris Syntetos and Mohamed Naim.
Qioptiq brought in Cardiff’s expertise when they realised small improvements in forecasting could lead to leaner supply chains and big cost reductions.
Thanos’s research showed the business could reduce its inventory by up to 25 per cent. It provided sound inventory forecasting for sales and returns - supporting QIOPTIQ’s revamped ‘service and remanufacture’ circular economy model.
Peter White, Managing Director at Qioptiq said: "The KTP has produced outstanding results. Historically, we operated a complex supply chain, but Thanos’s expertise has developed a toolset we could utilise to support our Integrated Logistics Supply operations. For this opportunity we acknowledged we needed to take a more collaborative approach to external funders and expertise. The Partnership has helped secure a major contract from UK MOD to support equipment vital to the safety of our soldiers in front line operations.”
The KTP followed a preparatory collaborative research and development project between Qioptiq and Cardiff University undertaken under the auspices of the Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies (ASTUTE) programme, a substantive £27M investment between 2010 and 2015, part-funded by Welsh Government’s Welsh European Funding Office.
Professors Naim and Sytentos said: “The KTP enabled us to demonstrate the tremendous impact of "
Innovate UK’s Manager for Wales, Jon Wood said: “The Partnership is a classic KTP success story. The benefits that KTPs can bring to businesses across Wales are incredible.
North Wales has a vibrant Photonics cluster, with £500,000 awarded to 5 companies in the North Wales Photonics Launchpad, which included QIOPTIQ. Since 2003, Innovate UK has committed more than £100 million in funding to over 400 organisations in Wales, with the amount of funding increasing year-on-year from 2008.”
Cardiff University’s KTP manager, Paul Thomas , added: “There’s never been a better time for companies to bring in Cardiff University’s Knowledge Transfer expertise to help them stay ahead in the fast-moving global economy.”
Regional Knowledge Transfer Adviser Mick Card commented “Europe’s most successful knowledge transfer programme, KTPs have been running for over 40 years and are a highly effective form of resourcing and embedding innovation or productivity changes. KTPs generate on average £1m annual PBT uplift with 4 out of 5 Associates retained as leaders and managers within the business”